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Social Workers Rise to Grand Challenges

Social Workers Rise to Grand Challenges

Published January 31, 2018 by AATBS Team

As Social Workers, we naturally worry about the well-being of those around us, whether in our community, in our state, nation, or even globally.

To that end, the American Academy of Social Work & Social Welfare (AASWSW) has launched an initiative called the Grand Challenges for Social Work. Comprised of 12 challenges, they focus on improving the very fabric of society.

These challenges are an exciting way for Social Workers to continue to be involved in both individual wellness and the wider issues we face in our society. From violence to environmental issues, to social injustice and inequality, Social Workers have been affecting positive changes in the world.

The Grand Challenges for Social Work is designed to continue to tackle the major challenges we face.

The AASWSW hopes that by using science-based methodologies to tackle these challenges, those involved in social work can continue “ improving individual and family well-being, strengthening the social fabric and helping create a more just society.”

Each month throughout the year, we will highlight one of the 12 Grand Challenges and will share additional ideas and resources for you to use in your work.


Grand Challenge #1: Ensure healthy development for all youth


The first Grand Challenge is to ensure healthy development for young people.

Evidence-based studies have shown that many behavioral programs that affect the younger population can be avoided via preventative approaches.

“Each year, more than 6 million young people receive treatment for severe mental, emotional, or behavioral problems.”

To that end, the AASWSW has put together two documents to highlight how we as Social Workers can educate ourselves and bring more attention to how prevention can assist this segment of the population, the goal being to help all youth become healthy and productive adults.

The AASWSW confidently states that: “Within a decade, we can reduce the incidence and prevalence of behavioral health problems in young people by 20% from current levels through the widespread implementation of tested and effective preventive interventions.”


So what can you personally do?


First, read the papers here:

http://aaswsw.org/grand-challenges-initiative/12-challenges/ensure-healthy-development-for-all-youth

Then share. As the Policy Recommendations state: “A well-trained workforce comprised of social workers, nurses, physicians, psychologists, teachers, and others is needed to coordinate and deliver effective prevention programs.”

The more we share the science and encourage our peers to coordinate and work together, the faster we can influence policy and enact these recommendations.

Whether a student or a practitioner, Social Workers have a duty to keep updated on the science and policies affecting our field.



To learn more about the Academy and the history of the grand challenges initiative, see “The American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare: History and Grand Challenges,” published in the journal Research on Social Work Practice.